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A Nation of Animal Lovers Closes Its Eyes to the Massacre at the Gaza Zoo

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from Counterpunch - http://www.counterpunch.org/beattie02062009.html

February 6-8, 2009

A Nation of Animal Lovers Closes Its Eyes to the Massacre at the Gaza Zoo

At the Zoo

By MISSY COMLEY BEATTIE

For days, the mainstream media talked endlessly about it. Michael Vick. Dogfighting. Blood sport. Killing animals that underperformed. Many defended the professional athlete. Others thought Vick should receive the maximum sentence after his conviction.

Some of us shook our heads, repulsed by the cruelty, but we were utterly dismayed that so many people who expressed outrage over Vick�s crime, seemed to pay little or no attention to the killing of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yes, we�re a nation of animal lovers. And, we�re enamored of our sports heroes. Certainly, the Michael Vick/dog abuse narrative was a juicy plate of filet mignon for infotainment peddlers to place upon our television trays. These are the same "reporters" who seldom mention US troop deaths and who never talk about the estimated million plus Iraqi civilians who have died since the occupation of Iraq.

So, why, then, given our attraction to animal stories, were news anchors silent on the massacre at the Gaza Zoo by Israeli troops who shot and killed caged animals during Israel�s recent assault on Gaza?

The answer, of course, is that we�re supposed to believe that Israeli troops are the good guys. Palestinians are "militants." Israeli soldiers are, well, soldiers.

An article at www.palestinechronicle.com  by Ashraf Helmi and Megan Hirons provides the chilling details. Here is an excerpt from their piece and their interview with zookeeper Emad Jameel Qasim:

The zoo opened in late 2005, with money from local and international NGOs. There were 40 types of animals, a children's library, a playground and cultural centre housed at the facility.

Inside the main building, soldiers defaced the walls, ripped out one of the toilets and removed all of the hard drives from the office computers. We asked him why they targeted the zoo. He laughs. �I don't know. You have to go and ask the Israelis. This is a place where people come to relax and enjoy themselves. It's not a place of politics.�

Israel has accused Hamas of firing rockets from civilian areas. Qasim reacts angrily when we raise the subject.

�Let me answer that with a question. We are under attack. There was not a single person in this zoo. Just the animals. We all fled before they came. What purpose does it serve to walk around shooting animals and destroying the place?�

Inside one cage lie three dead monkeys and another two in the cage beside them. Two more escaped and have yet to return. He points to a clay pot. �They tried to hide,� he says of a mother and baby half-tucked inside.

Qasim says that his main two priorities at the moment are rebuilding the zoo and taking the Israeli army to court.

The gruesome attack must have posed a true dilemma when our mainstream media got wind of it: A tragic tale of dead animals vs. exposing the brutality of Israeli troops. Wolf, Anderson, Campbell, Suzanne, Chris, Norah, Contessa, Rachel, Joe, David, Sean, Bill, Megan, and Shephard are probably working on a way to spin this to suit AIPAC. Perhaps, something like convincing us that a Gaza Zoo animal might be used as a shield by Hamas "terrorists."

Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She's written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she's a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,'05, she has been writing political articles. She can be reached at: Missybeat@aol.com


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